New York, July 24: A criminal investigation has been sought to determine whether US Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton's use of personal email account as the secretary of state resulted in mishandling of sensitive government information, a media report said today.
Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open the criminal investigation, the New York Times quoted senior government officials as saying.
The request comes after an assessment was made in a June 29 memo by the inspectors general for the State Department and the intelligence agencies that Clinton's private account contained "hundreds of potentially classified emails".
The memo was written to under secretary of state for management Patrick Kennedy. The Justice Department has not yet decided if it will open an investigation and it is not clear if any of the information in the emails was marked as classified by the State Department when Clinton sent or received them, the report said.
In a second memo to Kennedy, sent on July 17, the inspectors general said that at least one email made public by the State Department contained classified information.
The inspectors general did not identify the email or reveal its substance. Clinton, eyeing the 2016 Presidential elections, has come in for widespread criticism and backlash for using a private email account for official State Department business even though she has repeatedly said that she had no classified information on the account.
The NYT report said a spokesman for Clinton's campaign declined to comment. The State Department is now reviewing some 55,000 pages of emails and a first batch of 3,000 pages was made public last month.
The inspectors general also criticised the State Department for its handling of sensitive information, particularly its reliance on retired senior Foreign Service officers to decide if information should be classified, and for not consulting with the intelligence agencies about its determinations, the report said.
Clinton has insisted that she did not email any classified material to anyone on her personal email. The report said the revelations about how Clinton handled her email have been an embarrassment for the State Department, which has been repeatedly criticised over its handling of documents related to Clinton and her advisers.
Earlier this week, a federal judge sharply questioned State Department lawyers at a hearing in Washington about why they had not responded to Freedom of Information Act requests from a media organistaion.
"I want to find out what's been going on over there I should say, what's not been going on over there," Judge Richard Leon of United States District Court said, adding that "for reasons known only to itself," the State Department "has been, to say the least, recalcitrant in responding."
Lawmakers on the Republican-led House committee investigating the Benghazi attacks also said they planned to summon Secretary of State John Kerry's chief of staff to Capitol Hill to answer questions about why the department has not produced documents that the panel subpoenaed.
"The State Department has used every excuse to avoid complying with fundamental requests for documents," chairman of the House committee, Representative Trey Gowdy said.